Blake H. Phillips EQI, Ltd., President & CEO

The biggest benefit our implementation of EOS is the organization-wide alignment that comes with utilization of the VTO to drive and measure organizational performance.

Scott is that unique type of EOS implementer who unites groups while simultaneously driving them to challenge conventional wisdom and engage in constructive debate.  Scott has pushed EQI to embrace the EOS toolkit and use it as force multiplier across our US, China, and Indian teams.

One-on-ones: Yes or No?

One-on-ones: Yes or No?

In EOS – One-on-ones . . . Yes or No?

I have been getting this question lately, and so I want to answer it for all.

First, my early clients will attest that I was a pro one-on-one and EOS® person. After implementing EOS® with 30+ clients I have learned a few things:

  1. The most important time for interaction and feedback between leader/manager and team members are:
    1. Weekly connect points (L10 or set time with team)
    2. Quarterly 5-5-5™ (feedback / check-in conversation)
    3. Regular (never missed) same-page meetings between Visionary/Integrator
  2. Too often one-on-ones are used because team members don’t want to bring up issues in the L10.

If you are currently doing them and want to keep doing them, here are three tips to make sure they are having a positive impact on team health (building capacity for honesty, vulnerability-based trust, and teamwork) and alignment.

3 tips for keeping one-on-ones from derailing team health and making the Integrators job harder than it should be:

  1. Any issue brought up that involves teamwork with a peer should either: 1) go to the L10 Issues list, or 2) become a To Do to take the issue directly to the person who can help solve it.  If it is a conflict that needs the Integrator to be involved to solve it, then make it a Personal Issues Solving Session™ (see toolbox in your LT manual). In a healthy team this should almost never happen.
  2. Agenda should reflect what the team member needs. Just like the 5-5-5, the individual and not the leader should own the agenda.
  3. Objective should be to work to a point where these get less frequent or end altogether.

Situations where one-on-ones have been used effectively by EOS leaders I have worked with:

  1. New team member: having them weekly/bi-weekly for 3 to 6 months helps keep their onboarding plan (you all have one, right?) on-track and deals with any issues more quickly.
  2. Struggling leaders: more frequent check-ins for coaching and support helps leaders through a difficult situation, which is sometimes warranted.
  3. New leader: if you are a new leader to the team, these might be an effective way for your team to educate you on what they do, the decisions they face, and even gets you out to tour their operation on a regular basis for a while to learn the business.

I have come to see one-on-ones as not needed if all of the other EOS tools and habits are in place. If you do one-on-ones and want to come to an organizational agreement on when/how they will be used, put it on the IDS list and solve it at an L10 or an upcoming quarterly/annual.
Whatever you do, remember One Team, One Voice – so move together on whatever you decide.

Lead well! ~ Scott

For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact on the Business AND Decrease Your Frustrations

You sit in the visionary seat because of your unique ability to see big trends, solve big problems, build/maintain important relationships, and generate ideas that will help your business get to the next level.

Lately I seem to be having conversations with visionaries that are seeing EOS® as a system that restricts their access and voice in the business. That is not the intent of EOS and of the accountability chart that created a much needed structure in your organization. Here are two key truths:

  1. Your opinion moves people when they hear it: I heard a story of a financial executive touring a trading desk one day when he made kind of an off-handed comment about gold looking interesting. When he revisited the area a week later he noticed the large positions they had taken up in gold. When he asked about the reasons for the shift, the team responded that they were just “following his advice.” A single comment had moved hundreds of millions of dollars! A leaders words move people, so choose them wisely.
  2. The Integrator – Visionary relationship is critical to your business: The reason Rocket Fuel was written was to equip you to do that. In the opening paragraph it says, “You will learn to utilize this partnership the right way to free yourself up, maximize your potential, and achieve everything you want from your business.”

Also recognize that all your ideas are not great, and some are gold and need to be done. Here are two things that will help you leverage your unique abilities and have a big impact on your business:

  1. Same page meeting with your Integrator: This is a critical time to prioritize your ideas, support each other, and IDS big topics that need to be supported by both of you before they hit the business. Follow the guidelines in Rocket Fuel to set this up, and call me if I can help refine this time for the two of you.
  2. Define the core processes that most impact your work: Generally it is either the sales or product development process that the Visionary spends the most time in. By defining the process and what parts or steps you will be the owner, it frees you up to be involved in the business without having to worry about the day to day follow through. Remember the story of the financial leader? Your voice just shared without the context of a process will most likely result in priorities being shifted without debate, and ultimately it will negatively impact the clarity and focus of the team.

Don’t stop being you because the strengths you possess are needed by the business. The lesson we all have to learn is that strengths overused become weaknesses, so put in the work to build up the relationship with your Integrator and refine the processes that will help your ideas get vetted and gain traction that you can see without having to be there every moment.Lead well . . . . ~ Scott

The 2021 EOS Conference in Houston is still open. Might be a good retreat to spend time ON the business and network with other visionaries.  Here is the link if you want to check it out.

IDS Like a Rock Star

IDS Like a Rock Star

Problem solving as a leadership team is the one of the most important skills you can build because the organization needs you to do it so the issues that get identified during your EOS® journey get solved. It is also critical as you cascade your L10 meetings that you facilitate it well to help all your people master the skill of IDS.

The reality, I see some teams do this really well, and yet I see others struggle with this. At my recent quarterly with all my EOS peers, Mike Paton did a deep dive on IDS that I wanted to review with you. Here are some key tips.

  1. Core Activity #1: Do the L10 Meeting Well –  Remember, the basic structure of the L10 with a scorecard, rock, people headlines, and To Do review should generate a strong issues list each day, including the brainstorm before IDS where the team bring other issues to consider. If this is not happening regularly the team needs to step up.
  2. Core Activity #2: Prioritize your issues to identify your top 3 first – Start with one, and don’t move on to #2 until the question is asked of the person that brought up the issue: Are we solved on this issue? and the next steps (usually a To Do) is documented).

Here are some tips from Mike Paton (past Visionary at EOS)

  1. Great IDS is not: 1) like a suggestion box in a lunchroom – throw a bunch of ideas in there and then never talk about them  2) A shoot the messenger activity – in a culture of courage people bring up tough things, stay to contribute to IDS, and work to solve the issue. Do you see that?
  2. Identify Best Practice #1: Ask lots of questions in I to get to the real issue – After the person bringing the issue up states the root cause of the issue in a single sentence, use these questions to drill down to the root cause:
    1. What is the REAL issue?
    1. I hear you saying the problem, what is the root cause?
    1. Can you restate that in a single sentence that focuses on the real issue?
    1. Tell me a little more about that?
    1. Could you unpack that a little more for us?
  3. Identify Best Practice #2: Use the EOS mode – The root cause of almost every issue is weakness in one of the core components of EOS. Go to the EOS model and ask: Is the root cause a weakness in the  Vision component? The People component? The Data component? The Issues component? The Process component? The Traction component? Once you get an answer go back to #2 and dig to the root cause. (I am having a local shop make a printed copy of a dry erase board that will have the model on it. if you want one email me.)
  4. Identify Best Practice #3: Be visual – Write all the Issue statement on a board. It is that simple and will help your teams focus on the root cause.

Here are some other tips:

  • Discuss: If it is going too long you are either 1) Not solving the real issue or 2) Not being open or honest 3) Repeating opinions/politicking  4) On a tangent (say Tangent Alert!)
  • Discuss: Some humorous statements to keep statements focuses: Your plane is running low on fuel so we need to land it.  Thank you Governor (their name), but you are not answering the question we are trying to answer.
  • Solve: Based on our accountability chart – who should know the answer? Look to that person to summarize the solution or next steps based on the discussion.
  • Stalling for more info: When people are asking for more info 90% of the time they are just stalling. Go to the staller, ask specifically what info they need, and ask if they would be willing to go get it. Make it a To Do if you have time, or if a decision needs to be made the Integrator is the tie breaker.

As you cascade your L10’s to your teams, remember to work hard to refine their skills in IDS. Teach, coach, and facilitate to the model I presented above. One thing I realized from Paton’s presentation is that I need to tighten up my own skills in our quarterlies so that you see an example of great IDS facilitation as you challenge yourself to grow in that area.

As always, if you want me to attend an L10 let me know. Another best practice is to have an outside leader attend your L10 to give you feedback, and maybe help you facilitate some of your IDS topics to strengthen this skill.

5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)

5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)

I am not an infectious disease specialist or an economist, but I am confident in predicting that our current challenges will require us to have resilience. The thing I have learned about resilience is you either have it or you have to build it. The only reason I don’t give a third option (not having it) is that I believe we all want to have it, so I am not letting you off on this one!

The good news, resilience is built. The bad news, the process of building it is hard because it is not a lesson that comes from a book but from our own experience.

As I look back at my own blogs, I realized that was a big topic for me in 2011. It was my second full year of operating my own consulting practice and it was my hardest year, both financially and emotionally. A friend of mine who is a pastor once told me that if you listen to sermons of people you can always tell what they struggle with the most because it becomes a theme that shows up often in their sermons. 2011 was my year for growth and pain, and it is obvious because I blogged about it a lot. As I look back, I realize I learned some important lessons through that season of my life. These lessons have become the foundation of a strength in me that has allowed me to see experience the current events in a very different way than 2011. To save you from reading all the posts, here are 5 lessons to help you grow your own resilience:

  1. Resilience can be built: The US military put millions of dollars behind research and a program to help equip leaders with the tools they need to demonstrate resilience in their lives and leadership. The steps are simple, but not necessarily easy. We should all review them and practice them over the coming months. (blog #2 below)
  2. Learn to measure your current state: For me, it became a simple formula: Hope > Fear + Anger + Despair + Frustrations + Worry + Hunger + Mistrust + fill in the blank. (blog #1)
  3. Find a friend: Being alone with a big life challenge is not a good place to stay. Go find a friend. If you see someone experiencing one of life’s top 3 stressful situations (death, divorce, job loss) seek them out. (blog #3)
  4. Schedule recovery time: A secret we all need to learn is finding a way for each of us to reflect and recover along our journey. Resilience is a marathon, not a sprint, so have the courage to carve out this time for yourself. (blog #3 and #4)
  5. Practice transparency: Everyone gets knocked off balance by life. The resilient ones are just skilled at getting back to center. The best thing for everyone, leaders included, is to be transparent about their challenges so people feel safe to admit they need help. Transparent conversations are the key to this. (blog #5)

Starting this journey requires us to reframe our setbacks into opportunities. A friend recently shared some wisdom with me. They have two questions they review several times a week: Why is this a gift to me? What is it offering that I don’t see? I now have both of those questions on my computer screen and a ponder them often. After all, there is no such thing as being too resilient!

Lead well, and from a healthy place!

Here are the posts from 2011 that will help you take a deeper dive into the points above.

  1. The Resilience Formula – for Leaders . . . for Followers      
  2. Resilience – What We Can Learn from the Military
  3. Developing Resilience – 4 Ways to Process the Pain
  4. Silence and Resilience
  5. Resilience – The discussion starts (and continues) with transparency
  6. Resilience – 4 Steps to NOT make it another initiative
EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

As you look to 2020, consider the perpetual challenge for all leaders working in an EOS organization – Do you want to be a GREAT leader?

Remember the statements I shared in the 90 Minute Meeting about the assumptions we make about leaders? The two assumptions we make about leaders in EOS are:

  1. You genuinely care about your people
  2. You want to be a GREAT leader

If either of these are no, then likely the organization needs you to look for another seat.

Are you pushing yourself to be a GREAT leader? Prove it – give me two things you are doing outside of working in the business to become a more effective leader.

The good news is, in EOS we have something called LMA, which stands for Leadership + Management = Accountability. In addition, we give you checklists for both leadership and management (pp. 20 – 21 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) and a measuring system of yes or no (with feedback from your people). I can almost guarantee if you have some open and honest conversations, one of these will be a No and give you something to work on.

We also have the Back to the Basics checklist (p. 33 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) that helps you analyze why your Rock % is low, why your team is missing key metrics, or why you just feel a little out of control or unbalanced in your work/home life. The answers to these questions actually translate into key skills you might need to acquire with some outside training. (Call me if you want to talk through this.)

As you head into 2020, take some time to reflect on whether you put the necessary effort in to being a great leader in 2019? If not, take a look at both of these checklists and identify a couple of focus areas for 2020. We will do some of this work in an upcoming annual with the Team Health/1 Thing exercise, but why wait?

As always, how can I help?

(Top tip: If you are looking to do some leadership development with your managers, look no further than these lists!)
 

Book studies are also a great way to learn; here are 6 simple books that will provide input to help you become a GREAT leader:

Extra support:

Working on listening at the heart of being a great leader?
Here are some blog posts + TED talks to help:

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

In most organizations, your role has the most direct reports, the most key measures on the Scorecard, and – along with the sales team – the most pressure on it when the organization is not meeting financial targets. As a result, mastering the EOS tools and cascading them is really important for you and your team.

Have you cascaded the EOS meeting rhythm to your team?
This includes:

  • Weekly L10
  • Quarterly Planning
  • Annual Planning

If the answer is no and you have been doing EOS for over 18 months, my next question is: Why not?

As your company grows, your role will grow – and probably faster than any other area because you are at the heart of the product/service your company delivers. Your ability to delegate and elevate with your leadership team will allow your team to grow along with you. If you would rather stay in a more hands-on role, that is also great too if that is your unique ability. It takes courage to have that conversation. I have seen it happen twice, and it made everyone happier and more successful.

As we head into annual season for many of you, expect me to ask this question. If you aren’t doing it yet, it is time to start. As always, how can I help?

(PS: If you want to connect with leaders already doing this well, let me know and I will be glad to connect you.)

Extra Support:
I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

The one position that I see the most incredible growth in is the Integrator. It is also the one role that I am sometimes too easy on as an implementer, which I have been working on correcting for the last year.

The two themes you will hear a lot from me are 80% Rock completion and same page meetings. Here are 6 key areas all current or future Integrators need to make sure their team masters (if mastery is not happening, I urge you to look in the mirror first…):

  1. Regular same page meetings with the visionary: You define ‘regular’, but the feedback I get is at least every 2 weeks and weekly in critical times
  2. L10 meetings that are routinely a 9 or 10
  3. 5-5-5 Feedback sessions with the leadership team
  4. LMA checklists: Yes on all items for each leader, especially you!
  5. Your VTO being shared EVERY quarter with everyone
  6. Core documents always updated and accurate, plus constant pressure to be great (VTO, Accountability Chart, Rock sheet/plans, L10 Agenda, and Scorecard)

Your role is important. But remember – the 6 things above don’t have to be done by you alone. Sometimes the Integrator is not great at meetings, so you get someone else to run them. The Scorecard is often owned by the most detailed-oriented (high fact-finder) member on the team, and sharing the VTO is often done by the passionate Visionary.

As you end this year and look to improve in your role next year, look in the mirror and ask yourself if these are being done. If not, commit to making sure it happens.

Learning from Others:
I had a team go from sporadic Rock performance to straight 100%.
The difference?
A new Integrator that created a stronger sense of accountability within the team. The feedback from the team – thank you!

A mentor of mine has taught me that leaders create conditions where accountability can happen. Since learning that I have caught myself saying hold people accountable, and I realize that one you do with people, and one you do to people, so they are very different! We create the conditions with our actions, repeated often.

In the situation I referenced above, the conditions of accountability also came with supportive statements like “How can I help?” Seeing these outcomes, and looking in the mirror myself, has resulted in a personal change of becoming stronger in creating conditions where you feel challenged to be your best. Also, it will always be followed by the next important words: “How can I help?”

Extra Support:

I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

I teach and coach in a leadership development program through a company founded by Paul Doyle, a leader who I both like and respect. It is the one piece of non-EOS work I kept after I ‘burned the boats’ last year, and that is only because I like being around Paul. Hopefully you have a Paul in your circle.

In a recent class, he shared some of the wisdom of doing management by walking around. As a Visionary, your eyes see things differently than the Integrator or the other members of the leadership team, so give yourself a chance to go connect and observe.

Here are four things that Paul Doyle shared with a group of leaders that will help your walks provide a great return on time:

  1. Make the focus on learning, not problem solving (let people fight through their own problems – don’t direct them on how to fix it)
  2. Listen more than you talk
  3. Spread time equally over the whole organization, don’t just go to problem areas
  4. Comment on successes as often as you comment on problems

You know something is broken when people start saying things like, “Oh no, here he/she comes!” The Visionary is most often an owner too, so remember to take the owner hat off, get to know the people, and make sure they know this is your listening time to just check in and learn from the experts – them! The only way to work through the fear this new habit might generate is to just do it well for 6-12 months.

Don’t let fear of not knowing names, hating ‘small talk’, or not wanting to end around on the integrator keep you from spending time in the business with the people that run it each day. If you do it right, you stay connected, the people are inspired, and the learning will help you build a great culture and company.

As always – let me know how I can help if you have some restraining forces that need to be overcome.

Extra support:
If you’re not already taking weekly Me Time, I suggest you enroll in my Me Time for Leaders learning journey. Schedule this weekly time in conjunction with your walk around to allow you quiet time to digest what you learn and make notes to help you later. Find out more about this learning journey here.

EOS® for Everyone: Retention Strategy – Cascading EOS Rhythms

EOS® for Everyone: Retention Strategy – Cascading EOS Rhythms

Lots of companies are talking about retention strategies for their people. As an EOS company, here is a case for why doing EOS really well and cascading it is the best strategy for keeping your people.

The Gallup organization came up with 12 questions that assessed an organization’s strengths in customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, and employee turnover. The four questions they ask that statistically tie to turnover are:
Q1 – I know what is expected of me at work
Q2 – I have the tools I need to do my job
Q3 – I have an opportunity to do what I do best
Q5 – Someone at work cares about me as a person
(Here are all twelve questions)

If improving retention/engagement is a goal for 2020, here is how the EOS rhythms will help:

 Q1 –
Expectations
Q2 – Needed ToolsQ3 – What I do bestQ5 – Cares
about me
100% RP/RSX XX
Quarterly
VTO sharing
XX X
Weekly L10XX X
MeasurablesXX  
Qtrly 5-5-5XXXX
RocksXXXX

The power of cascading these tools is that, if done well, it becomes a powerful tool to keep your entire team engaged in their work and contributing at a high level.

Extras:

  1. A great post about clarity breaks from one of my partners – Mike Kren at BizStream
  2. A quick video around Daniel Pinks book – Drive that gives a simple answer for What motivates people? I would point back to the EOS tools as actions that make this happen.